Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Ruiner has been on my radar for months and how I came about it was a bit different for one being in the games industry. Rather than receiving a press release regarding Ruiner, I actually found it while doing some animated GIF searches for “cyberpunk” and I was instantly hooked. Set in the year 2091 in the fictional cyber-metropolis Rengkok, Ruiner game is a brutal isometric shooter that immediately reminded me of a gritty title pulling influences from sources like Super Smash TV, the Contra series, A Scanner Darkly, and a handful of different Anime. What Reikon Games gives us though, is far, far more than just a run-and-gun action title set in the corporately-run underbelly of a future megalopolis, but rather a wild ride through the mind of someone that has had enough of a corrupt system and aims to bring it all crumbling down.
I am not sure if I am more taken by the setting, the visceral action, the stunning graphics, the cliché-but-always-interesting story, or the utterly enjoyable comic book-esque cutscene that are littered throughout Ruiner. The biggest issue I found with the controller use is in trying to be fast (which you will need to be) and accurate while hitting not only bumpers but triggers, while also using both analog sticks. Though the layout works well with a controller, I imagine it is far, far superior with mouse and keyboard. The keyboard just seems more suited to this near-but-not-quite-twinstick-shooter game; the controller works fine, but could be better.
In a world where everyone is connected digitally, Ruiner puts you square in the boots of a sociopath that has been, for lack of a better term, mind-hacked. You open the game charging the offices of a seedy and corrupt corporation, hell-bent on killing the boss. As you near the end of the tutorial / intro stages though, the real story kicks off as you are counter-hacked by a mysterious friend who is out to help you recover your kidnapped brother. Like any good shooter, Ruiner has its share of weaponry, my favorite is essentially a shotgun with bullets that bounce and when it hits, it leaves naught but a pink mist where the enemy crony was standing. It is pretty visceral and I love it. Other weapons include a pile of different small arms, like a handful of pistols, a few submachine guns, and some awesome rifles / energy weapons that, though limited, can tear through baddies in no time. The key is to save the heavy weapon by using your baton attack (mapped to the right-bumper, which means it can be a little awkward for regular use) and some of your skills, such as the ultra-important dash and the forcefield, which gives you just a little more staying power. Playing it smart like this will almost always yield good results when you come up to mini-bosses/bosses.
This idea of playing smarter, not harder seems to be something of a hidden gem within what is otherwise an incredible shooter; normally within the genre you just run around and blow things up in spectacular fashion. While that is certainly something you do in Ruiner, finesse and forethought can change a good game into a great game and there are few things more empowering than setting your dash locations by holding the dash button and plotting the dash points, then weaving in and out of your enemies, dodging bullets and smiting the evil cronies. It is incredibly empowering and if you time your dash jumps well and have one of the heavy weapons (like the aforementioned shotgun), you can utterly devastate the enemies on screen. It never gets old and as I worked through the campaign I found myself coming to look forward to each screen’s worth of oncoming enemies just to see how close I could cut it and how fine I could move through causing carnage.
Rarely is it as fun as it is in Ruiner to step into the shoes of a psychopath and wage war on a corrupt system. Ruiner is as awesome as dropping John Rambo with near-Jedi powers into a setting that feels like the love child between Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Masamune Shirow’s The Ghost in the Shell, except better. With an interesting story, phenomenal pacing, and action that is pure adrenaline-fueled excellence, Ruiner is everything its competitors should aspire to be.Score: 8.75 / 10